Author Topic: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?  (Read 39070 times)  

Offline Lhhansen

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Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« on: March 18, 2015, 06:42:51 PM »
I am looking at KDP from a business perspective. Is anyone really doing well with KDP? If you would have told me that books ranked 10,000 - 50,000 or so only make a few hundred dollars a month before I was a writer, I would have been astonished.  Now I realize that is the case.

So now my concern is that there is very little money to be made in KDP unless an author consistently ranks in the top 500 or so. For money, real money where you can survive and thrive comfortably, buy a house, travel, and have money left over, that seems to be the case. Otherwise, writing is just a hobby because $20,000 or so is not really living for me anyway.

I read an article that said most authors make four figures. If it takes several months to write a book, and you make a few hundred a month, well, that is a few dollars an hour. That places most authors well below fast food workers, and even some panhandlers.  Is time better spent doing something else, even if you love to write, if you want to make a living?

The only reason I bring this up is because I have seen people struggle, including myself, waiting for that better someday that never comes. Don't get me wrong - I love to write, and I love words, and I have made enough money to survive, but it is not living.  Writing is no longer fun if there is only chump change.

I have heard others say you just have to keep writing, and then the money will accumulate. The problem is that the books may de-rank faster than you can put new ones out, so it becomes a rather vicious cycle.

I have written both fiction and nonfiction. The nonfiction has much more staying power, but it took me two years to write the book! Fiction I can crank out faster, but it de-ranks faster. So, is it worth it? Is this even a  real business, or is the opportunity cost just too high? I think the numbers show most authors just don't make much in KDP, and very few are the exception. Am I wrong?

Offline Patty Jansen

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Re: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2015, 06:51:51 PM »
1. Don't, ever, believe everything you "read somewhere" (or even anything)
2. Many people here are retired/student/unemployed/never had a job/unable to work because of young children, illness or other issues. Saying that a few hundred $$$ is "nothing" totally misses the point.
3. If you're in it for money, go and put your money in the stock market. Or maybe not. But writing is not, not, not the place to be. Sure you may make money, but most likely you won't make all that much. It's a bit of a lottery. Love for the craft of writing always comes before money.

Offline horse_girl

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Re: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2015, 06:53:54 PM »
It's a gamble, no matter what you do. Some hit the magic spot, many don't.

Write because you love to write. Having people pay for the pleasure of you taking them on an imaginary journey is icing on the cake.
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Offline Flay Otters

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Re: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2015, 07:06:23 PM »
1. Don't, ever, believe everything you "read somewhere" (or even anything)
2. Many people here are retired/student/unemployed/never had a job/unable to work because of young children, illness or other issues. Saying that a few hundred $$$ is "nothing" totally misses the point.
3. If you're in it for money, go and put your money in the stock market. Or maybe not. But writing is not, not, not the place to be. Sure you may make money, but most likely you won't make all that much. It's a bit of a lottery. Love for the craft of writing always comes before money.
Patty nailed it.

Offline J. Tanner

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Re: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2015, 07:14:22 PM »
So, is it worth it? Is this even a  real business, or is the opportunity cost just too high? I think the numbers show most authors just don't make much in KDP, and very few are the exception. Am I wrong?

You probably aren't wrong for you. But neither are you right for many.

The odds of significant financial success in any artistic/entertainment field is incredibly slim. Writing is no exception. If you thought this was a get-rich quick (or get rich ever) kind of idea, you were WAY off, in the way that people that think the lottery is their financial opportunity are all wrong. Internet marketers, for example, drooling over e-publishing are barking up the wrong tree.

Conversely, many writers aren't considering opportunity cost by the same metric. For example, there's zero opportunity cost for me. I'm writing because I want to write, not because of the potential financial reward. If I make lunch money for something I'm doing anyway, it's a net positive.
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Offline Wayne Stinnett

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Re: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2015, 07:16:39 PM »
Not sure how you're coming up with those numbers, but a book that's ranked #10K is selling 10-15 per day, or 300-450 a month. Priced at $3.99, that's $800-$1200 a month. All six of mine are in Select and if it weren't for promos, they'd all be in the 10K to 15K ranks. Still, that's $4800 to $7200 a month. More than I made as a truck driver.  ;)

Nobody is going to make a living on one book. Writing more books is the key.
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Offline MyraScott

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Re: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2015, 07:17:56 PM »
If someone told you that you were guaranteed to make a comfortable living at writing, they lied.  Any business you run yourself (and you say you consider writing your business) is only as good as you make it.


Let's say instead of books, you make ice cream. You make good ice cream, maybe it has a little bit of originality to it, but in the end it's ice cream.  Now you put your ice cream for sale in a mall with 500,000 other people selling ice cream.  Some is better than yours, maybe a lot of it is worse than yours. But you are all selling ice cream.


The secret to selling more ice cream isn't simply making more flavors. The secret is getting people to come buy your ice cream and become attached to it, to seek it out, to walk by all the other ice cream to buy yours.


Once you have those customers, you can sell more to them.  But when you have no customers, making more flavors gives you a tiny added advantage of having more things to sell, but if no one knows/loves your brand, you are just waiting for customers to randomly walk by and pick your product out of a whole bunch of similar products.


It's only for chumps if you think selling books is simply following a formula an waiting for your bank account to fill up.

Offline ML-Larson

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Re: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2015, 07:22:10 PM »
Yes, there is a low success rate in publishing, and especially indie publishing.  But you will also find a few people on this very board who do make publishing their full time job.  There's another forum I sometimes visit where members regularly report a higher monthly income than my husband makes in health care.

Which, if my husband wasn't in health care, I wouldn't be able to do this right now.  This is, right now, my kind of expensive hobby.  But it's one which I hope to see a full ROI on by the end of the year.  That's really all I'm looking for in it at the moment, though it would be nice to be able to use this hobby to fund my other kind of expensive hobbies.
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Offline George Applegate

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Re: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2015, 07:23:25 PM »
I don't remember who said this...

"If someone tries to talk you out of being a writer, let them."
    

Offline Patty Jansen

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Re: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2015, 07:30:07 PM »
Not sure how you're coming up with those numbers, but a book that's ranked #10K is selling 10-15 per day, or 300-450 a month. Priced at $3.99, that's $800-$1200 a month. All six of mine are in Select and if it weren't for promos, they'd all be in the 10K to 15K ranks. Still, that's $4800 to $7200 a month. More than I made as a truck driver.  ;)

Nobody is going to make a living on one book. Writing more books is the key.

Not just what Wayne says, but I'm making consistently  more than $1200 a month, and my books are ranked nowhere near that. Why? Because my sales are all added up across Amazon US, UK, CA, Kobo, B&N, Apple and Google Play. So really, Amazon US ranking alone tells you nothing.

Offline LilyBLily

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Re: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2015, 07:32:37 PM »
Please don't crank out fiction. I hate reading cranked out fiction.  ::)

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Re: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2015, 07:33:49 PM »
It is for chumps if you don't have a plan, IMHO. I wrote this post before, and I truly believe it - it's not enough to just write some books, put them up, and sing "Luck Be A Lady." But, if you're strategic, then, yes, you can make a good living at this.

Strategic means figuring out what needs to be done to be successful, and then tailoring your writing towards that. I always get rotten tomatoes thrown at me when I say this, but it's not a bad strategy to read the top-selling books in your genre, then try to write something similar. It's definitely not a bad strategy to write in a series. It's not a bad strategy to write for a trend, if you can write fast to capitalize on it. It's an excellent strategy to anchor your series with a permafree. I would also suggest going wide. Paid promotions should always be a part of a winning strategy as well.

These are just a few strategies. Some find success with KDP Select. Others wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. Some find success writing what their heart desires. That generally only works, however, if the heart happens to be in a hot genre or at least a semi-hot genre. Not that cold or lukewarm genres aren't worth writing in, it's just that you have a better chance making a good living if you avoid them.

Etc., etc. If you take the time to learn what works, you can definitely make more than $20,000 a year. You don't even have to be special. You just have to be wiling to do your homework and not try to fight what works. :)

« Last Edit: March 18, 2015, 07:38:26 PM by anniejocoby »

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Online D. Zollicoffer

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Re: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2015, 07:34:06 PM »
Some of you guys are writing the wrong stuff. Niche titles with no real market, and thought behind them. I'm not trying to be mean, but it's the truth. You have to study the market, get good covers, blurbs, etc. All of this has been said a million times. This will better your odds, but obviously there's no guarantees.

Maybe it's easier for me since I majored in business. IDK, I started writing last June and quit my job by August. I'm not making as much as some people here, but it's double what I made clocking in everyday. More than enough for a single guy living in North East Ohio. Work hard and pay attention -- you can earn a decent living. But it will take time.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2015, 07:36:51 PM by D. Zollicoffer »

Online Amanda M. Lee

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Re: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2015, 07:34:41 PM »
I'm exclusive with KDP and I really love my chump change. It keeps me in shoes, all of the geeky stuff I could possibly want, oh, and I'll be able to buy my dream house (with furniture) outright in a year.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2015, 07:36:12 PM by YodaRead »

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Offline Krista D. Ball

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Re: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2015, 07:38:40 PM »
I've been consistently making in the $1000-1400 range for half a year now* and, like Patty, none of my books are ranked anywhere near those numbers cited. I have a few books out, which helps a lot, and a couple of series going, which helps a lot more. Only one is in Select, and it's a non-seller (<5 copies a month). I don't do much ad promo (mostly because I forget TBH), and tomorrow will be the first BookBub ad I've had - so again, this income isn't from the luck of drawing a BB.

It's a lot of work, a lot of patience, and consistently putting out new material. Occasional sales. A series. Nice covers. And while my grand a month isn't going to drop any jaws, I also don't know anyone who'd turn down bringing in that extra income every month.

My sales add up all over the place.


*This is excluding income from a box set I'm in

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Re: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« Reply #15 on: March 18, 2015, 07:39:39 PM »
Some of you guys are writing the wrong stuff.

You do you, and I'll do me, thanks.

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Offline SB James

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Re: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« Reply #16 on: March 18, 2015, 07:40:18 PM »
1. Don't, ever, believe everything you "read somewhere" (or even anything)
2. Many people here are retired/student/unemployed/never had a job/unable to work because of young children, illness or other issues. Saying that a few hundred $$$ is "nothing" totally misses the point.
3. If you're in it for money, go and put your money in the stock market. Or maybe not. But writing is not, not, not the place to be. Sure you may make money, but most likely you won't make all that much. It's a bit of a lottery. Love for the craft of writing always comes before money.
I could not have said it better myself.
In my situation, I'm writing for some pocket money and possible retirement money later on (after all, my works won't go out of print unless I take them off the market). I'd change my entire strategy if I was writing for primary income, but it HAS been done and it CAN be done.
Some authors can really make things work with KDP Select. I think you just need the right kind of books. I don't think KDP Select really works for every book series, but I do not think it should be ruled out as something I would NEVER do, since I could always write something to put into the program.
Like Wayne just said, writing more books really is the best strategy for any author, regardless of whether or not they enroll their books in KDP Select.


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Online D. Zollicoffer

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Re: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« Reply #17 on: March 18, 2015, 07:42:08 PM »
You do you, and I'll do me, thanks.
Oh please, don't be like that. Seriously, they're writing the wrong stuff if they want to earn a living. Which is the point of this thread. You can write whatever, but not if you want to get rich  :P

Offline Krista D. Ball

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Re: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« Reply #18 on: March 18, 2015, 07:43:01 PM »
Oh please, don't be like that. Seriously, they're writing the wrong stuff if they want to earn living. Which is the point of this thread. You can write whatever, but not if you want to get rich  :P

I will be like that. Thanks.


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Offline JRHolmes

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Re: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« Reply #19 on: March 18, 2015, 07:46:52 PM »
With only eleven posts from the OP ::), this has the odor of an agitator... Throw a smelly post out there and watch the ants get rattled.

Obviously there are a number of regulars here that are making more than the chump change that is being referred to. I don't think any more needs saying.




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Thanks for the pointer Betsy. While I wanted to be plain-spoken, I didn't intend to offend.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2015, 07:27:16 PM by JRHolmes »

Online D. Zollicoffer

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Re: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« Reply #20 on: March 18, 2015, 07:47:28 PM »
I will be like that. Thanks.
Just seems like you're picking a fight for no reason. I'm truly sorry if my post somehow offended you (that's not sarcasm), but it's clear what I meant. Really, there's no need for the snark. I don't think anyone would really disagree with what I said. If you're doing this for money then there are a set of rules you should follow.

Offline ML-Larson

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Re: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« Reply #21 on: March 18, 2015, 07:48:40 PM »
Just seems like you're picking a fight for no reason. I'm truly sorry if my post somehow offended you (that's not sarcasm), but it's clear what I meant. Really, there's no need for the snark. I don't think anyone would really disagree with what I said. If you're doing this for money then there are a set of rules you should follow.

Hmm.  No, it seems to me like you're the one trying to pick a fight, mate.
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Re: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« Reply #22 on: March 18, 2015, 07:50:04 PM »
Just seems like you're picking a fight for no reason. I'm truly sorry if my post somehow offended you (that's not sarcasm), but it's clear what I meant. Really, there's no need for the snark. I don't think anyone would really disagree with what I said. If you're doing this for money then there are a set of rules you should follow.

Amen. I'll back you up on that. Perhaps it was said inelegantly, but I do agree with the overall idea of your post.

And, btw, I forgot to mention this but the OP specifically said that KDP is for chumps. Select works for some, but for me, Amazon has been a bit of a sinkhole lately. But I'm established on all the other platforms, so hopefully, like Patty, I don't have to depend on Amazon anymore.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2015, 07:51:44 PM by anniejocoby »

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Offline Patty Jansen

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Re: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« Reply #23 on: March 18, 2015, 07:52:13 PM »
Quote
Some of you guys are writing the wrong stuff.

As far as I know, there are some very successful SF/F authors. On these boards even. There is a dude called Hugh Howey, for example.

Many people do quite well writing what I write. I don't even need any extra income, thank you very much.

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Re: Is KDP Chump Change for Chumps?
« Reply #24 on: March 18, 2015, 07:52:19 PM »
KDP is Kindle Direct Publishing. He didn't say Select was for chumps.  His post seemed to imply indie publishing wasn't cutting it for him even though he'd followed the instructions.